Modernity and Its Discontents

Yu-chen Lin

in Bloomsday 100

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780813034027
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038162 | DOI:
Modernity and Its Discontents

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This chapter focuses on the material world of fashion and the import of the oft-cited music hall song “My Girl's a Yorkshire Girl.” It argues that the ironic transformation of the frugal, self-denying woman in this song into a prostitute in “Circe” provides an implicit commentary on the vicissitudes of colonialism. After examining the attire of many of the characters in Ulysses and their imperfect attempts to follow contemporary fashion, the chapter concludes that James Joyce depicts many of his central figures as both complicit with and resistant to consumerist modernity. Moreover, the economic plight of many of the prostitutes and the monetary worries of Molly Bloom lay bare the conditions of colonial subjects and highlight their penuriousness and struggles to survive.

Keywords: Ulysses; James Joyce; fashion; music hall song; prostitute; Circe; colonialism; modernity; Molly Bloom; economic plight

Chapter.  6693 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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